We are nowhere near the sanitation target
The maiden Independence Day speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from the premises of the Red Fort last year, was full of how to make India clean by 2019. Soon after, the PM launched the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in October, with construction of toilets as its main component. Unlike the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, a similar scheme launched by the UPA government, SBM delinked itself from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). This was done because the government found that the construction of the number of toilets had slowed down in 2012-13 and 2013-14, after the convergence of two programmes in 2012.
With this, the Modi government also set some targets of construction of toilets in both households and schools.
According to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the target for households was set at 98 million more toilets by 2019. This means 67,000 toilets in a day or 46 toilets in a minute. The number, however, does not go well with the past performance of the government which says that under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, in the financial year 2014-15, 11 toilets were constructed in a minute.
This means that construction has to speed up by four times the present rate. At the pace of 2014-15, the target would be achieved by 2032, and not 2019.
For school toilets, the ambition set last year was to get one toilet in every school by 2015. School toilets were introduced under the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in 1999. The target at that time was to get toilets in all types of government schools (primary, secondary and higher secondary) under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) scheme, by 2013. The target was, however, not achieved.
TSC was replaced by Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) where schools that were not under SSA were also included. No deadline was given.
Constructing toilets in schools is an easier task as there is no need to spread awareness among the users. Even the location of the toilets on the school premises is more or less fixed. What is needed is proper design, water connection and operation and maintenance schedule.
Long way to go
SBM was launched in October 2014, whereby the target was to construct toilets in every school by August 15, 2015. Below are a few numbers from the Swachh Vidyalaya handbook that reveal the huge gap between what already exists and what is to be achieved.
- Total schools where functional toilets have to be made: 418,000
- Number of schools where functional toilets have already been made under Swachh Vidyalaya: 257,000
- Remaining number of schools where functional toilets have to be made: 161,000
- As per the need for functional toilets, only 61 per cent of the target for schools has been achieved